HC Deb 13 December 1956 vol 562 cc608-10
27. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that Joseph Grech was wrongly imprisoned as a result of a criminal conspiracy for which Ben Canter and Police Sergeant Robertson are now serving sentences of imprisonment; that Joseph Grech who is seeking a retrial of his case needs a copy of the proceedings of the trial of Canter and Robertson; that the Court of Criminal Appeal has decided that Grech, although the victim of this conspiracy, is not an interested party within Section 16 (1) of the Criminal Appeal Act, 1907, and so is not entitled to a copy; that his depart-morn has refused to provide Grech with a copy; and what he now proposes to do so that Grech can obtain a transcript.

Major Lloyd-George

I do not accept the assertion in the first part of the Question. As regards the transcript of the case referred to, Grech's solicitor applied for a copy of it in August and again in November without on either occasion giving any grounds for his request. The greater part of the note of this long trial has not been transcribed and I was not prepared to incur the considerable expense of obtaining a transcript in order to lend it to a person for his private purposes.

Before the solicitor made his second application to me it had been suggested on Grech's behalf in the course of an application to the Court of Criminal Appeal that he proposed to petition for the exercise of the Royal Prerogative with a view to a reference of his case to the Court under Section 19 of the Criminal Appeal Act, 1907, and that he required the transcript for that purpose. I, therefore, caused the solicitor to be informed that if this was his client's intention I should be prepared to consider what assistance I could give. The solicitor has now confirmed that it is his client's intention to petition, and I am accordingly arranging for a copy of the transcript to be obtained and lent to the solicitor for the purpose of preparing the proposed petition.

Mr. de Freitas

I am glad that has happened, but has it not taken a long time, and has the matter not thrown the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's Department into the position of referring this man to the courts and of the courts referring him to the Home Office?

Major Lloyd-George

The solicitor asked for the transcript on two occasions without giving any indication of what he wanted it for. As I have said in answer to the Question, when he said what it was wanted for, it was given. As the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, it is an expensive matter because a full transcript would cost about £200.